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8 ways to reuse plastic bags

Asking a slew of people what they do with their bags yielded lots of gripes about the avalanche of plastic -- and plenty of advice on what to do with those free sacks.

"Once you tote home your plastic bag of take-out sushi and Smart Water, you can reuse that bag in any number of ways," says Rebecca Sheir, a graduate student in Iowa City.

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Gym bag. Plastic is great for toting a wet swimsuit home from the pool. It's also fabulous "as a post-workout repository for your sweaty T-shirt and sports bra," says Sheir.

Trash liner. Free bags are often the perfect size for the little trash can beside your desk. The same is true for the bathroom's wastebasket, and some die-hards even use larger-sized freebies for the kitchen's bigger receptacle.

"I grew up in a use-the-bag-for-garbage household," says Courtenay Bouvier, also of Iowa City. These days, her parents buy garbage bags at the supermarket -- and tote them home in a bag.

Lunch box. A plastic bag works "as a carrying case for your brown bag lunch at the office," says Sheir. No need to pay for a pack of brown bags at the supermarket, either.

Cat litter. They're handy for emptying out the cat's litter box, cat owners say.

Dog picker-upper. "My best friend has filled many a Sunday New York Times tubular-type bag with her dog's ... leavings," says Bouvier.

Discount-getter. Some supermarkets and health-food stores offer a discount if you bring your own bags. At New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City, you get a "green stamp" discount of five cents per bag.

Cheap souvenir. "Glancing through my current stash, I see plastic bags from 'Knuth's Shoes,' 'Wild Oats Market' and other retail establishments in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio," says a nostalgic Sheir. "Mind you, of course, that I haven't actually lived in Cleveland, Ohio, since the summer of 1995 ..."

Those who travel abroad say bags from different countries make them feel like the trip never ended.

Donation-holder. For those who are still overwhelmed with bags, the last hope is using them to bundle donations -- and nab a tax deduction in the process.

See also: Paper or plastic? What's the environmentally correct choice?

 

 
-- Posted: Dec. 15, 2004

 

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